American companies are notoriously stingy when it comes to paid time off. But if you are entitled to vacation time at work, you may be inclined to take it during the holiday season. This especially holds true if you have family in another state and need to travel to celebrate with loved ones. But if you're going to ask for days off in late November through the end of the calendar year, now's the time to get moving on that request. Wait much longer, and you'll risk getting denied.

Don't let your co-workers beat you to the punch

Chances are, you're not the only one at your company who wants time off for the holidays. But if you don't get that request in quickly, you'll risk a scenario where your boss can't say yes because your team is already short-staffed. This especially holds true if things tend to get busy for your company around the end of the year, or if you're in a position where you're needed to complete tasks with an end-of-year deadline.

Smiling man in collared shirt and tie wearing Santa hat


Have a backup plan in case your boss says no

The fact that it's late October means there's a good chance your colleagues have already put in their holiday vacation requests, so even if you act quickly, you may wind up getting denied because of timing. The same may hold true even if your co-workers aren't vying for holiday time off -- if your team has tasks it must complete by the end of the year, your boss might hesitate to let you escape the office during the holidays.

A good bet, therefore, is to have a backup plan. For one thing, you can ask for the option to work remotely during the holidays rather than take off completely. That way, you could, conceivably, fly out to visit loved ones in another state, spend the actual holidays with them, but work the days before and after so as to not miss out on work or family time.

You can also compromise to avoid missing too much work at what could be a terrible time for your employer. For example, if you're an accountant or finance person who's relied upon for year-end figures, you may have difficulty getting your boss to allow you to take off the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. But you might get away with taking a couple of days off during that period.

Don't wait

If you're eager to take time off during the holidays, don't drag your feet. This especially holds true if you have young children who won't have school during that time, because in that case, you'll need the time off in the absence of built-in child care.

If you're nervous about requesting time off, remember that you're entitled to your vacation days, and that if you plan wisely, you'll have an opportunity to make up some of the work you'll miss ahead of time to avoid getting overloaded upon your return. Finally, remember that enjoying the holidays the way you want to could help you come back to the office refreshed, renewed, and ready to tackle the various challenges 2020 brings about.